Dear Kabissa members! I have made a handful of improvements to the Kabissa website, all minor but which I expect will make it easier for people to find Kabissa via search engines and get engaged more quickly once they arrive on our site.

We want everyone working in Africa to be able to join Kabissa to showcase their organizations and share their news, insights and opportunities, and everyone - even those just interested in Africa - to be able to find and connect with each other and with African organizations to engage on issues crucial to Africa's development.

I welcome your feedback and suggestions on how to improve the site further. 

Updated: Kabissa at a Glance page

I updated the Kabissa at a Glance page to add a brief description of Kabissa at the top and list the key areas that organizations work in. I'd welcome your feedback on further improvements to this page to make it even more user friendly. If someone were to volunteer to create a video or slideshare presentation from this page I would not say no. 

Kabissa (our name means completely in kiswahili) is a volunteer-led non-governmental organization founded in 1999 to help African civil society organizations to put Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to work for the benefit of their communities. We do this by providing an online platform where people and organizations working in Africa can showcase themselves and connect with each other. 

Kabissa members are active throughout Africa, working in a range of crucial areas including:

Advocacy and Policy, Arts, Culture, Conflict Resolution, Humanitarian Services, Economic Development, Poverty Reduction, Education, Environment, Gender, Governance, Health, Human Rights, Democracy, Media, Journalism, Microfinance, Technology, Training, and Capacity Building

Kabissa headquarters are on Bainbridge Island, WA in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, although the organization operates mostly online and boasts contributors from all over the world. The founder of the organization is Tobias Eigen who led Kabissa together with Kimberly Lowery from 2002-2007. 

Tobias currently leads Kabissa from Berlin, Germany while he works on his PhD and is returning to Bainbridge Island next year. 

Improved: Frontpage welcome text and links to featured blogs and news 

I have added the following text to the frontpage in a prominent location: 

Network connecting People and Organizations for Africa

Membership is free. Kabissa members work on crucial tasks to improve the lives of people in their communities, in areas from human rights and gender advocacy to health, poverty alleviation and education.

New here? Read Kabissa at a Glance to find out how you can take advantage of free Kabissa membership and partner with us. 

I also made a key improvement to the "featured blogs and news" columns directly below the map so headlines are now clickable, and included a summary of the number of comments each featured post has received so far. My hope is that this will encourage people to click through and add their comments - we want to see engagement after all! :) 

Moved: "Add comment" form now directly below posts 

In order to encourage participation, I changed a setting for blog posts to include the "Add comment" form directly below posts. Now you no longer have to click another link to "Add comment". 

I also simplified the Add comment form by removing some options that most people will never use. You can still add attachments to comments and rate posts as you add your comment.  

New: Archive of all content by month

When you go to the community blog you will now see more options on the menu. A few weeks ago I already added direct links to content categories and a "tag cloud" of popular tags. Now you can also see a link to Archive by month which will display a list of months, newest at the top, so you can browse directly to content posted in a specific month. 

New: Metatag description, keywords and customizable Page Titles 

The Kabissa site was not at all "optimized for SEO" as the experts call it, as revealed in a review with an expert of our website visitor statistics in Google Analytics and our account in Google Webmaster Tools. I have now istalled a handful of Drupal modules that enabled me to start this process. Now each Kabissa web page has descriptions and keywords hidden away in its HTML code to help Google and other search engines to understand the content better and improve our rankings. Authors of content on Kabissa can now set the Page Titles (displayed above and used by search engines) to be different and perhaps more meaningful than post Titles. 

New: XML Sitemap for Google 

I installed the XML Sitemap Drupal module and configured it to enable search engines including Google to "more intelligently crawl" the Kabissa website and keep their results up to date. 

I kept notes on the work I did to do the above in Drupal (hint: The SEO Checklist module is golden!) and will share it in a post to the Peer Learning group when I have more insights into how it worked out. 

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I did a speed test on kabissa.org via pingdom tools last week and it showed up something like 9 seconds. Then redid the test today with www.kabissa.org http://tools.pingdom.com/?url=http://www.kabissa.org/&treeview=0&column=... which results in something like 5.6 seconds.

Am still to understand the difference between the www subdomain raiting and the one without.

I think there is a complete universe of SEO & speed & usability options that one can choose from, and I understand it takes a lot of time to figure these out. I will also need to optimise it. In fact, we will also need to do that for AfriGadget one day.

Hi Juergen, 

Thanks for the comment (I always appreciate it :) and thanks for the link to tools.pingdom.com. I am seeing a technical conversation following so I will shift this post to the Web Hosting group. 

I use pingdom.com to track the "uptime" of the Kabissa site - a nice free service. But I was not familiar with this tool you link to that helps you see how long it takes to load pages. 

I really don't know why the Kabissa site would be loading faster this week than last week, especially since I've now turned on a whole lot of new functionality. I don't think there's any difference between the www.kabissa.org and kabissa.org domains. I do know that there is optimization that can be done there too to make the pages load faster (especially combining stylesheets -

Generally speaking, over the years I have been ignoring the "universe of SEO and speed and usability options" because I haven't wanted to put the time into it and it also seemed somehow dishonest to be strategically tinkering with settings that affect how search engines treat your site. This feeling of mine is reinforced regularly by the volume of unwanted spam I get offering me SEO optimization (by email, through the website, and now in huge volumes via twitter to @kabissa - annoying!). 

Now though I have had an SEO professional who I trust walk me through it and I am realizing that it has been a mistake to neglect it. There is a minimum of steps that everyone should take to ensure that Google and other search engines know what your site is about and to help them to direct the people we want to our website. 

Cheers,

Tobias

The SEO project continues! Kabissa is now a project on the @AnalysisExchange and we have been matched with a student @emillano and mentor @sorprendida team in Spain to help set up our Google Analytics and SEO. This is great! I had a very encouraging call with them last night and they are now writing up a brief of what they will do to help us set goals and create a Google Analytics dashboard to help measure the performance of the Kabissa site and share that information with the Kabissa community. 

I also spent some time reviewing and improving the tags used on Kabissa, which also feature in SEO for a number of reasons -

  • tags appear in the keyword metatag for each post (useful for search engines) 
  • tags are now displayed as links on the frontpage, about page, and sitemap and create a new and potentially very powerful way to navigate the breadth and depth of content on Kabissa (useful both for people and for search engines) 
  • the tag pages each have a description at the top, which I have filled in for a couple of tags such as http://kabissa.org/tags/world-cup - these descriptions can include links as well (again useful for both people and search engines)

Now I am thinking about how we can engage volunteers who care about the places and topics reflect on tags pages to "curate" tags by writing the descriptions and encouraging people and organizations working in those areas to join kabissa and contribute their content. 

I also will need to see how tags fit into the country and topic "dashboard" idea that I have been discussing with various people. One thing that seems urgently needed is country tags and organizations tags. The latter would be connected with organizations in the Kabissa database. 

Let me know if you have any thoughts or want to help out. 

Thanks, 

Tobias

ps - if you use @Drupal and taxonomy for tags, you should install the Taxonomy Manager. It has completely revolutionized my ability to understand what is happening with tags and to organize them. Thank you Drupal! :) http://drupal.org/project/taxonomy_manager

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